Lauren Storey and Scott MacDonald, from Hedworth, Jarrow, were due to welcome their first child into the world on February 26 last year.
But when Lauren, 23, went into labour more than three-months premature, little Mason MacDonald was born at Sunderland Royal Hospital on November 18, 2014.
Scott, 24, and Lauren’s son weighed just 1lb 15oz and could fit in the palm of their hands.
It came as a shock to the couple as Lauren, who works in Wilko, had a normal pregnancy until she unexpectedly went into labour early.
Lauren said: “I had been poorly with morning sickness through my first trimester and ending up in hospital for a little while with gastroenteritis, but after that I had a miraculous turnaround and was a picture of health.
“But one day when I was about six months pregnant I was getting really bad pains in my back and was really uncomfortable.”
After becoming concerned, Lauren, and Scott, a spraypainter for Japanese mining and construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu, went to South Tyneside District Hospital and doctors found she had gone into labour and was already 3cm dilated.
The mum-to-be was given steroid injections and medication to help stop her contractions and was transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where she was put on a drip to delay her labour.
Lauren said: “I was told that I was going to have to face that I was going to give birth. It was awful and we were terrified. Our parents rushed straight over.
“We’d only found out that we were having a boy a few weeks before that and never thought that he’d be here so soon and that he’d be fighting for his life.
“It was a really hard time but the staff at the hospital were fantastic – they saved his life. They talked us through everything step-by-step and even gave us a tour of the neonatal unit before he was born so that we wouldn’t see it for the first time when our baby was there with tubes sticking out of him.
“The whole experience was terrifying though, and it’s something I’d never wish on anybody else.”
Now 14 months old, Mason is doing well. He still requires oxygen when he’s sleeping and has a severe hearing loss, but Lauren says they feel lucky.
She said: “They still can’t tell us why I went into labour early, we don’t know, but we’re lucky that it wasn’t much worse.
“He is still quite small, but I don’t have any other children so I don’t really have anything to compare him to.
“He was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand and he was so transparent, you could see his heart beating in his chest.”
Lauren and Scott are now organising a fundraising night to say thank you to the hospital staff who saved their son.
It is set to be held at the Boldon Lad, in Hedworth Lane, Jarrow, on April 2.
The evening kicks off at 7pm and includes a live band and raffle. Tickets cost £3 and can be bought from the bar.
Lauren added: “We’re raising funds for the neonatal unit because they saved Mason’s life.
“He was in there for 11 weeks and we practically lived there. They looked after us all and we want to make sure they can look after other families too.”